Penske Duo Focused on Talladega
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on May 3, 2013 | 12:08 P.M. EST
The Penske Racing pair have been in the eye of the storm recently with the penalties NASCAR assessed to the team last month at Texas Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano aren’t thinking about anything except trying to win this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
The Penske Racing pair have been in the eye of the storm recently with the penalties NASCAR assessed to the team last month at Texas Motor Speedway. Although the first round of the appeal process didn’t overturn any of the sanctions, the organization will take the case to Chief Appelate Officer John Middlebrook next week for a final decision.
However, even with those headlines swirling around the team, Keselowski and Logano remained focused on the matter at hand this weekend at the sprawling 2.66-mile track.
Keselowski is a two-time Talladega winner and the defending champion of the Aaron’s 499. The reigning Sprint Cup titlist understands the challenges of competing and succeeding at the track.
“You really have to pay attention to how the race unfolds at Talladega,” said Keselowski. “There are times when you need to be patient. There are times when you need to keep your head about you and race smart. But you are going to have to be aggressive at the end. Those are three elements of restrictor-plate racing that I work on throughout the race.”
Logano has had an up and down Sprint Cup career at Talladega. In his eight career Talladega starts, Logano recorded two top-five and four top-10 finishes in his first five races at the track. In his last three races at the venue, he’s been involved in multi-car accidents.
He’ll make his first-ever ‘Dega Cup start in a Penske Ford on Sunday and is ready to deal with the unpredictable nature of restrictor plate racing.
“Some people really like it and some people don’t,” he said. “That’s just the nature of restrictor-plate racing. I really enjoy it and I feel like I’ve become adaptable to it since I started. The worst part about it is that you only control part of your own destiny. When you are out there racing in a pack, your day can be ruined by someone else’s mistake.
“We’ve all had it happen to us and been a part of that. That is when it is frustrating. But it’s also a lot of fun because if you make the right moves, you can get to the front quickly. It’s just a part of our sport.”
Logano will get an early start to the weekend when he competes in Saturday’s Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 piloting the Discount Tire Mustang. While Keselowski is disappointed he won’t be driving the car this weekend, he’s confident Logano will be a factor on Saturday.
“Absolutely. Joey is a beast in the Nationwide Series,” said Keselowski. “It’s going to be a great thing for our Discount Tire Ford Mustang team to have a driver the caliber of Joey Logano behind the wheel. I feel like we have one of the best Nationwide Series programs around so I’m anxious to see how he does.
“But it is difficult for me to step away – especially after getting the first win of the season last weekend at Richmond – because I love this series. Having a Nationwide Series program is essential to our overall success at Penske Racing. It provides depth in a lot of areas. I’m proud of what we have built.”
While the new Nationwide cars have competed at Talladega before, this weekend marks the Gen-6 Sprint Cup Series car’s debut. But even with one plate race under its best at Daytona, there are still many unknowns of how the car will perform at its sister track in Alabama.
“It really made the style of plate racing that we have become accustomed to different,” Logano said of last February’s Daytona racing. “It ended up being a lot faster to stay in line and work on timing to make your moves. It will be interesting to see if it’s the same way this weekend at Talladega.
“We have our ideas as to how the race will play out, but we have a lot more time with these Gen-6 cars now. We will just have to wait and see.”